Punctual as the quarter boys of St. Dunstan, Southey might have been seen any day in the forty years he dwelt at Greta Hall, in black coat and corduroy trousers, strolling out before breakfast, or sitting at his desk in his study till two; then, after dinner, with black or black-blue peaked cap, and fawn coloured, all-round coat, not swallow lappeted, very neatly dressed—“Never seed him wi’ a button off in my life,” an old man once said to me—starting for his constitutional, at a three mile walking pace, with book in hand, and clogs on his feet.  The children sometimes with him, borne on “their noble jackass,” sometimes with servants, bairns and all bound for a pic-nic on the lake;’ sometimes pestling away at black currants for black currant wine; sometimes building, all the household of them, the bridge of stepping stones across the Greta, which Southey commenced in 1809, and which was constantly needing a little repair.  But back again would Southey come to tea and talk in the great library at six, and there, after the London paper was read, the lamps were lit, and he wrote his letters, for he generally made a point of replying to his correspondents on the same day.  Such letters! so full of humour and of his own best thoughts; I do not wonder Wordsworth thought that, in them, was Southey’s best and deepest expression of himself.  Then, perhaps, would come a finishing touch to some MSS., prose or poetry, till supper time came, and ten o’clock; and after that, goodnight, and so to bed, to be waked, perhaps, by dreams of the children that were dead, and then to sleep, till the next day brought its literary burden. (pp. 52-53)

But if we had met him on his wandering we should have been struck by two or three things.  First, that he seldom passed a little child without patting it on the head, for Southey loved children; he would break off in his work when they invaded his library to tell them a tale, to imitate a whole farmyard, and fill the house with the moanings of a menagerie; their deaths did but make these children dearer, and every child he met reminded him of his own Margery, Herbert, and Isabel.  When Herbert died, ‘died the best part’ of Southey too.  He was never quite himself in spirit afterwards.  Wilkinson, the friend of Wordsworth, met Southey in 1816, at Lowther Castle and writes:—”I lately spent an evening with Southey at Lowther; he seemed cast down, having lost his oldest, if not his only, son lately.”  Had Wilkinson met him twenty years later, and mentioned Herbert’s name, he would have heard Southey sigh almost with a sigh of agony, and seen the mist gather in his eyes.  Next we should have noticed that he did not speak unless spoken to; and then, that he lifted up his face skywards, as if he were short-sighted and must look under his spectacles,—not that he wore them.  We should have observed too, his extreme lankiness and long-leggedness of figure, his fine bushy head of dark hair—“finest heead of hair ivver man cud hev wished to hev hed, up tull t’ last, was Southey’s”—and his coal-black flashing eyes. (pp. 53-54) 

(Literary Associations of the English Lakes, Vol. I, pp. 52-4)